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April 2002

Note from the Editor

Well, we are off to the start of a new season for the 64th. To start off we had some hardy members attending the 140th Shiloh event this year in Tennessee. Contrary to the 135th re-enactment, which was a re-enactment of Noah’s flood, this time around we had great weather and overall a very nice event. You will notice a slightly different format for our newsletter this year. With more and more people on e-mail I hope to be able to forward electronic versions to those who wish to receive the newsletter that way. In this way we might be able to reduce our postage costs and use the money for other worthwhile issues, like a new national flag. I would encourage those of you that have e-mail addresses to send them to me (thurstjc@bp.com) so the unit has them for the newsletter as well as other internal unit communication. As the editor, I would also encourage all members to submit articles of interest to the unit which we can publish here or actually install on our soon-to-be website (more info on that in the next issue).

The Editor


To All Military Members of the 64th
By Captain Bob Bierman

Gentlemen, coming up very soon on April 19-21, 2002 at the Dollinger Farm in Minooka, we will again hold our training camp. I cannot stress how important to all of our soldiers participation in this camp is. There are many things we need to work on. We need to strive to keep a certain amount of quality in our drill. The 1st Illinois Battalion is stressing more and better participation at its events this year. The bugle will play a greater part in the battalion's battlefield movements. We the 64th need to keep up. Everyone from private to Captain needs drill. Drill has to be repetitive so that our actions on the field are indicative. There is nothing more impressive than a well-drilled and well-handled unit.

If you cannot make any other event this year please try to make the training camp; this is where we prepare for all other events this year.

As usual we will have a portajohn and straw. Bring your own food and water. I will be at the farm all day on Friday as well because I’ve also made Friday morning our first woodcutting date for the Civil War Days event this year. Of course we can camp out both Friday and Saturday nights.

So gentlemen, I am calling for a full or maximum participation at this year’s training camp. It is that important. So please try and attend.


Membership Dues Are Dues!

All members of the 64th Illinois: our membership dues are due. Please have your dues in to Diane by April 4, 2002. Please make all checks payable to:  64th Ill. Co.E. Y.S.S., Inc. You can mail them to Diane Bierman (treasurer) at 1121 Westshire Dr., Joliet, IL 60435. And as always we appreciate and thank you for being a part of our re-enacting family.


A Thank You Notes From Sand Ridge National Center

The unit received a very nice letter from this organization thanking us for our participation.


A Thank You Notes From Boone County Conservation District (Belvidere Fundraiser)

The unit received another thank you letter for our participation at this event, which we used as a fundraiser with our Fry Bread sales.


Naperville, IL: May 17-19, 2002

As always, our Naperville event is anxiously awaited. We have plans for recruiting and plans for our civilians alike. Our company potluck is always special and after our potluck a unit-wide meeting will be held. This is one of our company's finest events of the year. Hope to see you all there.


Military Elections of Field Officers and NCOs

Our elections of the military ranks are proceeding as this newsletter is being printed. All military members should by now have received their voting ballot. Please fill out your ballot and return to Capt. Bob. My address is 1121 Westshire Dr., Joliet, IL 60435. Please all military members of the 64th you have a voting right.  USE IT!


“Battle of Dollinger Farm 2002” Woodcutting Dates
By Captain Bob

This is for everyone. Our unit is again hosting the “Dollinger Farm Civil War Days” on Oct. 18-20, 2002. Please support your unit; support this worthwhile event. Dollinger Farm is now one of the largest events in the state of Illinois. It has been the work of our unit that has made this event grow to what it is today.

We need volunteers at this year’s woodcutting dates. Dates are as follows:

For all my volunteers, we meet at the red barn at 9 am on these dates. If you have chain saws to bring, feel free. They are always needed.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all my volunteers that have helped me in the past. You have always been greatly appreciated.


Ask the Drill Sergeant

From time to time we hope to use this portion of the Dispatch to address drill procedures to be adopted by the 64th or to answer any questions our members have on drill that could be helpful to all of our members. As we start the 2002 season we thought it would be useful to go over stacking arms. Having freshly attended the Shiloh National event, I can say no two soldiers in the company we fell in with used the same stacking arms drill, so we thought it would be worthwhile to discuss this.

The following will give all members a step-by-step instruction on the musket stack we will be using in the 64th. There are two reasons we have adopted this. First there is less chance to damage your front site, and it is the stack adopted by the 1st Illinois Battalion, which we are a member of. This drill is called the “Kentucky Swing.”

Front rank #1 [FR1] will lift his musket 6-8” and angle his piece so the shank of the bayonet is over and in front of his right shoulder. The butt of his musket should be over his left foot. Without moving his feet he will turn slightly right. At the same time, Rear Rank #1 [RR1] will shift his musket 6-8” and turn it is the barrel is to the right, when the FR1 turns to his right, RR1 will hook his bayonet shank over the top of FR1’s bayonet. At this time FR1 will let go of his musket with his right hand and take RR1’s musket. At the same time, Front Rank #2 [FR2] will lift his musket 6-8” and reverse his musket so the barrel is to the front. He will then swing the bayonet to the left keeping the butt of his musket over his right foot and hook the shank of his bayonet between FR1 and RR1’s bayonets.

The position all should be in now is: FR1 is holding his musket in his left hand with the butt over and to his left or his left foot and the RR1’s musket in his right out behind him. FR2 should be holding his musket in both hands in a sort of low port arms with the butt in the air over and between his feet. RR1 and Rear Rank #2 [RR2] should be at attention. At this time FR1 will advance the musket in his right hand so the butt is 30” to his front and both FR1 and FR2 will lower the stack to the ground. FR1 will set his to the left of his left foot and FR2 will set his between his feet. RR2 will then pass his musket to FR1 who will place it on the stack by hooking the shank of the bayonet on the stack and lowering the butt to the ground between FR1 and FR2.

All will be at attention. [Note: at no time is there a need for anyone to move their feet.]


64th Game Club

The 64th Game Club has proven to be a lot of fun and we hope to continue it through the summer. Anyone interested please contact the editor.


Rosehill Cemetery

The unit has been asked to supply some re-enactors to participate in a Memorial Day event at Rosehill Cemetery on May 27.  The address is Rosehill Cemetery, 58100 Ravenswood, Chicago, IL (773-561-5944). Try to be there at 10 am for an 11 am start. Greg Dely will give a short reading from a Bible carried by a solider that is buried there. Directions: take Lake Shore Drive [North], exit at Foster and proceed on Foster west to Ashland Ave. Turn north on Ashland to Rosehill Drive. Turn left on Rosehill and proceed two blocks to the cemetery.


Civilian Project?
By Mary Benecke

Last year the 64th civilians worked together on a quilt project that gathered a lot of interest from spectators, and was also a great activity that got many members involved.  I would like to gauge interest, maybe in the upcoming newsletter, of doing another quilt or other group project (suggestions welcome…) for this coming season.  This would most likely go toward fund raising (hopefully to raffle off next season, 2003) for the group.  So we'd have one season to work on the project, and the next season to raffle it.  I had one idea as to where the funds could go:

I recently found out about conservation efforts for the Illinois Civil War battle flags, which are currently housed in Memorial Hall in Springfield. Many of the original regimental and national flags are in a state of disrepair, and the funds are insufficient to preserve them at this time. I've read that this is a $1 million project, with only about $250,000 budgeted by the State of Illinois.  The regimental flag of the original 64th is in sad shape, with the center medallion totally deteriorated.  I have heard, however, that it is possible to contribute funds to the preservation of specific flags, since conservators would rather have the money to save some flags rather than none.

It was my hope that possibly we could raise money, through our raffle, to at least contribute something toward the conservation of the 64th flags.  I currently have the phone number of the man in charge of this project, although I haven't gotten in touch with him yet.  I would definitely find out more details and talk with him about this IF there is interest in pursuing this.

Again, this could be a fun group project (definitely doesn’t have to be a quilt, but hopefully something where everyone can be involved) that, when finished, we could raffle off for contribution funds.  The flag idea is just one; I know there are many other worthy causes out there!   I would love any comments, questions, anything (please!).  Give me a call at (262) 524-7525 or email at roseof1861@lycos.com.


The Uniform of the 1st Battalion, Yates Sharp Shooters (December 1861-Late 1862)
by John Thurston

The initial uniform issued to the 64th Illinois Volunteer Infantry (at that time known as the 1st Battalion, Yates Sharp Shooters) at enlistment, in December 1861, was the State Blue Fatigue Uniform. This consisted of:

Illinois initially contained no arms factories and hence most accouterments worn by troops had to be imported. Pictures of units mustered in around the same time show standard issue Federal accouterments [Belt, haversack, packs, ammo pouch, cap pouch, canteens, bayonet frog]. There were some accouterments [cartridge and cap boxes] manufactured by contractors in Illinois later [H. Head in Quincy for one] though.

As born out by photos of other Illinois units, this style uniform was popular with the Illinois troops throughout the war, in lieu of the federally issued patterns of uniforms [the 17th Illinois had them into 1863, although slouch hats had replaced the bummers]. These state-supplied uniforms were of better quality than the Federally issued uniforms. Even though they cost more, they were still in demand, even after the state stopped being responsible for uniform procurement. The Federal government took over supplying the Illinois troops on July 1862 with uniforms and equipment, but the state still supplied some jackets and such up to the mustering of the 131st Infantry Regiment in 1862.

The 64th began to receive US regulation clothing in the spring of 1862. The existing pictures available on members from the 64th [various companies] show them wearing frock coats [officers and enlisted men], bummer caps and vests; but the time of when the pictures were taken is not known. We do have one picture of an individual from Company D in the shell jacket.


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